Warriors upset Great Bridge

Published 8:47 pm Thursday, February 2, 2012

Nansemond River High School’s Shannon Evans defends against a drive by a Great Bridge player during the Warriors’ 66-52 win over the first-place team on Tuesday. The Warriors are back at home tonight against Oscar Smith High School.

By Matthew Hatfield

The Nansemond River Warriors were determined on Tuesday not to let the visiting Great Bridge Wildcats clinch the Southeastern District title on their home floor. Nansemond River used a 14-2 run in the opening 3:48 of the fourth quarter to turn a one-point deficit into a double-digit lead.

The Warriors coasted from there, prevailing 66-52 to move within a game of first-place Great Bridge in the district standings.

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Nansemond River’s defense buckled down in the fourth quarter, and Great Bridge went ice cold from the field, misfiring on their first 13 shots and shooting 1-for-14 for the period, while the Warriors shot 6-for-10, including a three-pointer in the closing seconds from senior center John Joyce that made the home crowd erupt.

“Being able to play defense like we know we can and working the ball around on offense was the difference,” said Nansemond River senior guard Shannon Evans, the game’s high scorer with 20 points. Evans scored 14 of his points after halftime to shake off a slow start.

“I was a little frustrated at first, but my teammates and coach settled me down, and we came out with the W,” he said.

Evans and backcourt mate Dontrell Brite were the keys to Nansemond River overcoming a 16-9 deficit at the end of the first quarter as they chipped away in the second and third quarters before coming up with their run in the fourth period.

The Warriors started the game with intensity and energy, claiming a 7-2 lead and forcing three turnovers just three minutes into the game.

Behind a patient style on offense in the half-court and a bothersome 2-3 zone defense, the Wildcats built a 27-19 lead late in the second quarter. NR shot 0-of-6 from three-point land in the first half and committed nine turnovers, allowing Great Bridge to frustrate them.

“I think early in the game there was a lot of adrenaline, and you can’t win games on adrenaline. Plus, it’s Great Bridge and they’re not a team that will let you do what you want,” said Nansemond River Coach Ed Young, now 157-46 in eight years at the helm with the Warriors.

“Our defense as the game went on, especially when we changed it up and when Owens went out, really shook them up,” he said. “We ran about four different defenses, they really dug in and we tried to concentrate on Evans, keep the ball in front of us and we had to rebound. I thought we did a great job on the glass.”

The third quarter came to a close with Owens and Nansemond River sophomore center Daniel Wallace getting into an altercation that referees had to break up. It resulted in both players receiving double technical fouls and automatic ejections, which seemed to fire up the Warriors over the final eight minutes.

“It definitely brought a lot of energy to us, because they disrespected us on our court,” Brite said. “We fed off of that and played harder down the stretch.”

Nansemond River went in front at the start of the fourth quarter and never let up.

“We have a point guard in Dontrell who’s quick in the lane, quick to give you the ball, and Shannon is quick to get his shot up,” Young said. “When we’re hitting, we’re good. When we’re not, I admit it’s a struggle.”

To go with his 20 points, Evans had seven rebounds, four steals and three assists. Brite finished with 14 points, seven assists and five steals. Joyce chipped in eight points and six rebounds. Washington had seven points, eight rebounds, four blocks and three steals. Mike Copeland provided six points on 3-of-3 shooting and three boards off the bench.

The Warriors were set to play Thursday at Western Branch. They return home tonight to host Oscar Smith.